SARW urges mandatory social investment plan

ZAMBIA should discard the concept of corporate social responsibility because extractive industries prefer to undertake projects that are cheaper with little or no benefits to the community, says Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW). 
And House of Chiefs head of research Patrick Manda has challenged the government to consider revising the mines and minerals development Act so that traditional leaders are fully consulted whenever a mining project is about to be undertaken in their chiefdoms.   
During an extractive industries programme titled Our wealth our future on ZNBC television on Wednesday, SARW Zambia representative Edward Lange said communities that host mining companies were not benefiting from the natural resources. 
"Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should be done away with and in its place there should a corporate social investment plan which should be mandatory and it should be included in the action plans of the investors and this way investors will be obliged to have a strong feeling for local communities," Lange said. "Under current arrangements, CSR is voluntary and investors just wake up and think of doing something cheaper that doesn't even benefit the community yet the investor will claim that 'we have done something for people'." 
He said Zambia should go beyond the publication of revenue received from the extractive industries. 
"In line with transparency and accountability, Zambia should go further and publicise development agreements signed with mining companies if the country is to qualify as an implementing country under the extractive industries transparency initiative process," said Lange. 
 And Dr Manda said chiefs should be consulted at each and every stage of projects falling in the extractive industries' category. 
"There is need to bridge the information gap because chiefs have to know everything and when it comes to CSR projects, let traditional leaders and their people prioritise because in many instances we chiefs just receive invitations to officiate at commissioning of those projects," said Dr Manda. "In fact, the mines Act needs to be looked at again so that chiefs are consulted when minerals are discovered like the way it is with surface rights since mining rights give more powers to investors."